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March 9, 2014

Consumer Reports: Save money on your TV

(Continued)

Negotiate. If you don't want to change your current TV package, see whether a promotion will save you money. Ask for the disconnect or cancellation department. You'll speak to a customer retention specialist whose job is to keep you as a subscriber.

Switch. You may conclude that it's time to switch to another provider, which might give you a better deal as a new subscriber. In many areas, there's only one cable company, but satellite TV is available in most parts of the country, and Verizon FiOS and AT&T U-verse serve many areas.

Streamline. Think about cutting equipment. Is it worth paying for DVR service or a set-top box for all of the TVs you have connected? Consider keeping cable on your main TV and use an antenna for a bedroom TV used mostly to watch news or talk shows. You'll save $6 to $10 per month on box rental.

STREAM WHAT YOU WANT WHEN YOU WANT IT

Streaming video services are the big bang behind your exploding viewing options. Those online services offer thousands of movies and TV programs, old and new, that you can enjoy on your own schedule. To stream video you need a broadband Internet connection (Consumer Reports' experts recommend 5 mbps or higher, provided by most cable services) and either a TV with built-in Internet capability or a device that you connect to the set -- a media player, an Internet-enabled Blu-ray player or a game console.

Most services charge either a subscription fee, usually $10 or less per month, or several dollars for each movie or TV episode you stream. One major service, YouTube, has a huge selection of free movies and TV shows, though it's known mostly for amateur videos. But video quality varies more than with the paid services, which usually offer very good quality on a decent Internet connection.

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